Eager to try my kayak on the Willamette River, on my next free day I loaded up the car and drove to Whitely Landing, a small carpark with river access just a couple of miles away. It was fairly cold, but a wetsuit keeps you warm and a lifevest on top cuts out most wind. The carpark was deserted (good), so I was able to unload the kayak and get ready without feeling judged. This was my first live attempt at getting the kayak onto and off the car for real, and it's not the most dignified activity.
After a little huffing and puffing the kayak was ready to get on the river.
Once out on the water it became obvious that I wouldn't be able to make much headway against the current. At this time of year there is a huge volume of water coming downriver, and as soon as I left shelter of the bank I started drifing downstream too. Paddling hard and staying as close to the right-hand bank as possible, I was able to get about 100 yards upstream. Here a tree leant out over the water, forcing me to go back towards the fast-flowing center of the river, and paddle as fast as I could, I couldn't make headway. As soon as I put the side of the kayak to the current I would start drifting downriver again.
Holding onto a branch I took this picture to show I'd at least been on the water. Then it was time to drift back down to the landing ramp.
Back on dry land, ready to pack up. When the water level is lower the river should run slower, and allow me to get past that tree and explore further upstream. An alternative is to have Beth drop me off upstream and paddle down to this landing ramp, having previously parked my car here so I can load up and drive home without Beth having to come and fetch me.
Apart from the Wilammete and McKenzie rivers with all their park and lauch locations, there is also the Fern Ridge Reservoir (aka Fern Ridge Lake) not far to our west, and this was destined to be the site of my next kayaking adventure.
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